Gill net ban expected to impact local panga operators

At least 350 panga operators and some 1,000 families in Puerto Peñasco will be affected by the temporary ban on gill nets for smaller boats, known as “pangas”, in the northern part of the Gulf of California in an effort to protect the endangered vaquita marina and other species.

On April 10th, the Official Journal of the Federation published notice of the two year ban for the Upper Gulf of California, which encompasses fleets of smaller vessels in Puerto Peñasco, the Golfo de Santa Clara and San Felipe. Within the area of Puerto Peñasco alone there are 350 permit holders that will be directly impacted by this ban, and at least 1000 additional families that are part of the productive process.

The temporary ban launched by the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) regarding commercial fishing through the use of gill nets was planned as a measure to protect the endangered vaquita marina, a species endemic to the area of which studies show there to exist approximately 100 in the Upper Gulf.

Hermenegildo Ramírez López, Director of the Fishing Office in Puerto Peñasco, indicated one of the factors that will most heavily impact panga operators in Puerto Peñasco in particular is the fact they were not included within a compensation program of up to 1 million pesos being applied to permit holders affected by the fishing ban.  In addition, he expressed, there is a serious problem of uncontrolled clandestine fishing, which in Puerto Peñasco points to at least more than 500 pangas operating outside of the law.

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